Recently my pastor gave a sermon on love and on the famous “love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13). I know. We’ve heard countless sermons on love and can probably recite or at least cite this chapter from all of the weddings we’ve been to. But he shed some new light on the whole “agape love” thing for me and I decided to go in and really look at this chapter to determine what it means to me. (A little side note – as God so often does, this message was restated for me from one of the pastors I listen to on the radio. It’s like God is saying, “Did you get this? Are you listening?”)
So first a quick Greek grammar lesson. As you may (or may not) know, there are times in the Bible that the English word we use to convey the original word doesn’t quite give the whole meaning. The word “love” is one of those times. We only have one word for love but the Greek actually used a few different words for “love”. The most common of these were: phileo, which expresses the kind of love felt for a close friend; storge, which expresses the natural empathy felt with love for your family; and eros, which expresses a sexual, passionate kind of love.
The less common word used by Greeks for love is the word “agape”. This kind of love is the kind of love felt by God for man. The kind of love that is completely selfless, totally unconditional, expecting nothing in return. Nearly all of the New Testament occurrences of the word love are “agape”. And I recently learned that outside of the Bible during those times there was only one other time this word was used. Pagan Greeks didn’t do “agape” love. They knew no god that loved them. Their gods were impersonal. This kind of love didn’t make sense to them, and it doesn’t make sense to unbelievers today. My pastor used a great analogy. He called it our “special sauce”.
So if that’s true, and if agape love is our “special sauce”, then I must have the recipe so that I can offer it to everyone. I want people to truly see how amazing my God is not just because I’m nice. Not just because I’m friendly. But because I am all these things and more even when it might seem that I every right not to be. I want to surprise people with my love. Actually, I want to shock them!
Stay tuned. I’m going to dig into the “love chapter” so that I can really understand how God wants me to love. Then by the grace of God and power of the Holy Spirit I’m going to seek to live it out.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8